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Heath Dog Violet

Viola canina

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Violaceae (Violet)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
10 centimetres tall
Fens, gardens, heathland, moorland, riversides, rocky places, sand dunes, waterside, woodland.

Blue, 5 petals
Pale blue flowers. Heath Dog Violet is much like the Common and Wood Dog Violet but is distinctively much bluer. It has a blunt pale yellow spur and only begins to flower in about late April. Pollinated by insects.
The fruit is a 3-parted capsule.
The leaves are heart-shaped, longer than broad. There is no basal rosette, as with most other Violet species. The leaves are also alternate and stalked. They have shallow round-toothed margins. Perennial.
Other Names:
Dog Violet, European Heath Dog Violet, Heath Dog-violet, Heath Violet.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Viola canina, also known as dog violet or heath violet, is a species of violet in the family Violaceae. It is native to Europe and parts of Asia, and is a perennial plant that typically grows in sandy or gravelly soils. The plant has small, bright blue or purple flowers that bloom in the spring and early summer. It is a low-growing plant and typically reaches a height of about 5-10 cm. This plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. Some cultivars have been developed for garden use. It is often found in heathland and moorland habitats, and can be common in sandy areas or on rocky ground. The plant is a food source for some insects, butterflies and moths.


Heath Dog Violet (Viola canina) is a species of wild violet native to Europe and Asia. It is a hardy, evergreen plant that is known for its bright purple flowers that bloom in the spring and summer.

One of the most notable characteristics of the Heath Dog Violet is its low growing habit. This plant only grows to be about 4-6 inches tall and spreads out to form dense mats of foliage. The leaves are green and oval-shaped, and they have a slight wavy edge.

The flowers of the Heath Dog Violet are its most distinctive feature. Each blossom is made up of five purple petals that are surrounded by two green sepals. The petals are typically 1-2 centimeters in diameter and are arranged in a flat, circular shape. The flowers are very fragrant and are popular with pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

The Heath Dog Violet is a versatile plant that can be grown in a variety of settings. It is well-suited to grow in rock gardens, woodland gardens, and wildflower meadows. It can also be grown in containers and can be used as a ground cover in larger gardens.

The Heath Dog Violet is relatively easy to care for and is quite hardy. It prefers well-drained soil and partial to full shade. Once established, it requires very little maintenance and can be left to grow on its own.

Overall, the Heath Dog Violet is a beautiful and low maintenance plant that adds a touch of color to gardens and landscapes. Its bright purple flowers and sweet fragrance make it a popular choice for gardeners and nature lovers alike.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Heath Dog Violet has also been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. The leaves, stems, and roots of the plant contain compounds that have been used to treat a variety of ailments such as respiratory infections, digestive problems, and skin irritations.

However, it is important to note that the Heath Dog Violet should not be ingested in large quantities as it can be toxic. It is always best to consult with a medical professional before using any plant for medicinal purposes.

The Heath Dog Violet is also an important plant for wildlife, as it provides food and shelter for a variety of insects and small animals. The flowers are a source of nectar for bees and butterflies, while the leaves and stems provide cover for other insects such as ladybugs and caterpillars.

The Heath Dog Violet is also a valuable plant for conservation. It is a common wildflower in many parts of Europe and Asia and is considered an important indicator of healthy, biodiverse ecosystems. In areas where the plant is threatened or endangered, conservation efforts are underway to protect and preserve this important species.

The Heath Dog Violet is a beautiful and valuable plant that adds color and fragrance to gardens, landscapes, and wild areas. Its versatility, hardiness, and ecological importance make it a plant that should be appreciated and protected for generations to come.

In terms of propagation, the Heath Dog Violet can be easily propagated through seed or division. For seed propagation, simply scatter the seeds in a prepared seedbed in the fall or spring and keep the soil moist until the seedlings emerge. For division, simply dig up the clumps of plants in the fall or spring and separate them into smaller clumps, making sure each clump has a good root system. Replant the smaller clumps in the desired location and water well.

It is also important to note that the Heath Dog Violet is a low maintenance plant, but it is still important to take some steps to keep it healthy. For example, it is important to remove any dead leaves or flowers regularly to prevent fungal diseases from forming. It is also important to water the plants regularly, especially during periods of drought, to prevent the soil from becoming too dry.

In terms of pests and diseases, the Heath Dog Violet is relatively resistant to most pests and diseases. However, it can be susceptible to powdery mildew and other fungal diseases if the leaves remain damp for extended periods of time. To prevent fungal diseases, it is important to provide good air circulation around the plants and to avoid overwatering.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Heath Dog Violet is a great plant for gardeners of all skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this plant is easy to grow and care for, and it is a great way to add color and fragrance to your garden or landscape.

In conclusion, the Heath Dog Violet is a beautiful and valuable plant that is well-suited to gardens and landscapes. With its bright purple flowers, sweet fragrance, and low maintenance requirements, it is a plant that is sure to bring joy and beauty to any setting.


Heath Dog Violet filmed at Sandscale Haws in Cumbria on the 8th July 2023.


Music credits
Lift Motif by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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